Case study of siege on Jerusalem

TRANSPONDER wrote: Wed Nov 03, 2021 4:07 am Of course there’s spin on both sides of the account of the Assyrian siege. But The Bible actually agrees with the Assyrian version. Sennacherib besieged Jerusalem and Hezekiah was able to do a deal with the Assyrians and pay tribute, which was a bit of a face – loss for Assyria. The Bible agrees this but separates it from the account of the siege that claims that the Assyrian army was smitten by God. Virtually vanished.

Let’s use this as a case story for digging in and trying to find out the truth.

There are 3 accounts in the Bible of the siege on Jerusalem:
Isaiah chapters 36 and 37
2 Kings chapter 18
2 Chronicles chapter 32

Isa 36:1-2
1 Now it came to pass in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah, [that] Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the defensed cities of Judah, and took them.
2 And the king of Assyria sent Rab-shakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem unto king Hezekiah with a great army.

2 Kgs 18:17
And the king of Assyria sent Tartan and Rabsaris and Rab-shakeh from Lachish to king Hezekiah with a great host against Jerusalem. And they went up and came to Jerusalem. And when they were come up, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which [is] in the highway of the fuller’s field.

2 Chr 32:9
After this did Sennacherib king of Assyria send his servants to Jerusalem, (but he [himself laid siege] against Lachish, and all his power with him,) unto Hezekiah king of Judah, and unto all Judah that [were] at Jerusalem, saying,

If someone read these passages 200 years ago, it would be mostly on faith in the Bible to accept these to be historically factual.

In 1830, Sennacherib’s Prism (Taylor Prism) was discovered that records the siege by the Assyrians. This pretty much proved the event as recorded in the Bible occurred and it was not a story pulled out of thin air.

So what do we know actually happened? Both accounts agree there was a siege on Jerusalem during the reign of Hezekiah by the Assyrians by Sennacherib. There was a tribute given to Sennacherib by Hezekiah. Assyrians tried to take Jerusalem, but failed and left.

Something also seemed to have happened to the Assyrian army to cause them to give up attacking the city. The Bible simply says the angel of the Lord smote them.

Isa 37:36
Then the angel of the LORD went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they [were] all dead corpses. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.

Sennacherib’s Prism gives no reason why they left. Most likely, whatever the reason, it would’ve been too embarrassing for them to record it. But, it’s already quite embarrassing for them to give up attacking a city. Their account spins the story by saying they trapped Hezekiah “like a caged bird.” But, what’s the point of saying this when he’s obviously free when they gave up attacking the city?

What does it actually mean that “an angel of the Lord smote them”? I don’t think we need to take this literally as in some giant floating spiritual being with wings got a giant sword and slashed everyone. Just like if an insurance company write down an act of God caused my car to be demolished, it doesn’t mean that God directly caused my car to crash. My guess is they didn’t really know what caused the army to die and called it an “act of God”.

There is another source that records the event from an Egyptian perspective. Herodotus writes mice caused the death of the Assyrian army.

“Some Biblical scholars take this to an allusion that the Assyrian army suffered the effects of a mouse- or rat-borne disease such as bubonic plague. Even without relying on that explanation, John Bright suggested it was an epidemic of some kind that saved Jerusalem.” … _Jerusalem